It took more than 30 years, but the end is finally in sight for Japan joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Lower House unanimously approved the signing of the international treaty and will receive Diet approval within 30 days if the Upper House will not vote on it.
Japan is the only one of the Group of Eight nations who did not join the pact, even amidst intense pressure from the other 89 signatories of the treaty. During Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United States last February, he assured President Barack Obama that Japan is close to accepting and signing the treaty.
The Hague Convention is a set of rules and procedures that would ensure the return of children under the age of 16 to their place of residence when they are abducted by one parent after the dissolution of an international marriage. The court where the child resides will then decide on custody rights. The bill has a few exemptions for the repatriation of children, in cases of child abuse or domestic violence.
After the treaty has been formally ratified, the Foreign Ministry will set up overseas support centers to assist and offer legal support for Japanese citizens who will be involved in any child custodial battle. The central authority will also locate the abducted child if necessary and will ensure cooperation from local governments and police if needed.
[ via Kyodo News ]